Kieran Apter‘s EP ‘The Mirror‘ was released on Chapter 24 in February this year and was already his second contribution to the label after last year’s ‘All I Want’. Shortly after Kieran’s performance at the Chapter 24 showcase at London nightclub Egg, Torture the Artist met the Scottish DJ and producer to chat about his forthcoming move, his musical preferences and the advantage of knowing what is in your record bag.
Torture the Artist: Hello Kieran, how did you start your day and where does this interview find you?
Kieran Apter: Hey there! I’m currently on the train back to Edinburgh from London, I started my journey shortly after waking up this morning.
Torture the Artist: You’ve played a recent Chapter 24 Showcase at Egg London. Having been part of the label’s other showcases, how do you think the philosophy behind the concept is relayed into their parties?
Kieran Apter: I think the showcases give a good taste of what the label is about musically. I really enjoyed playing at Egg with the gang on Saturday and look forward to the next one.
Torture the Artist: You are planning to move to London later this year. What prompted the move?
Kieran Apter: I have been thinking about moving out of Edinburgh for a while now for a little change of scene, especially while I don’t have too many commitments. London seems a good move for me at the moment, I have a lot of friends there and can easily continue my residencies in Edinburgh and Leeds. There are some other places I’d like to try living in further down the line also.
Torture the Artist: What are some of the activities or places you will miss most about Edinburgh?
Kieran Apter: Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, I’ll really miss the views that you take in on a daily basis walking around the city centre. There is a beach not too far from my house, and a walkway that runs through the woods along a river leading to it. On a sunny day I often walk along there and stop off for a pub lunch and a nice pint, I’ll miss this!
Something I have noticed is how documented sets and parties are these days because of people taking videos and uploading them into groups.
Torture the Artist: Have you noticed any significant music trends – electronic or not – in Edinburgh over the past few years?
Kieran Apter: I think electronic music as a whole really started to become more popular again with the younger generation in Edinburgh around 2011/2012. I suppose it has continued to grow in popularity since then. Social media may have a big part to play in it, something I have noticed is how documented sets and parties are these days because of people taking videos and uploading them into groups such as The Identification Of Music Group. I think this has actually helped get certain artists more exposure and benefitted their careers.
Torture the Artist: The earliest mention of your ‘Tweak_’ party series on Resident Advisor is June 2016. Was that the first in the series? Tell us more about your initial interactions with the scene and how the concept came about?
Kieran Apter: Our first party was actually back in May 2015. I had been to Berlin for the weekend with my friend Simon Bays and not long after we came back Simon came to me with the idea of starting a new night focusing on the sounds that we were into. I had been playing at other parties around the city for a year or so. Long before I ever played at any of the clubs I used to flyer and do some promo work, so I knew a lot of people within the scene.
Torture the Artist: In previous interviews, you mentioned that ‘Tweak_’ feels very much like a friends’ gathering. How hard do you get to party during those nights? If you happen to get a hangover, what is your remedy?
Kieran Apter: At first it was only really friends and friends of friends that were coming down, at that stage we would party very hard when Tweak_ was on. I’ve started calming my party antics down as I get older but I think Simon still makes up for the both of us.
The best hangover cure is some fresh air, the weekend before I went for a Sunday roast and Bloody Maries which sorted me right out!
Torture the Artist: Keeping consistency in organising a party series of this calibre must be challenging. What are some tips you would share with others running a night or intending to do so?
Kieran Apter: As with most things, what you put in you will get back. Running a night can be a lot harder than people imagine, and there is a lot of work involved. I think it’s important to try and have a family feel within your residents, promoters, staff and crowd. It creates a scene around your night and makes for a good atmosphere. Having your finger on the pulse when it comes to booking guests helps also.
Someone told me once not to pigeon hole yourself as a DJ or producer.
Torture the Artist: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Kieran Apter: That’s a tough question. Someone told me once not to pigeon hole yourself as a DJ or producer, that was really good advice. I try and take influences from lots of areas.
Torture the Artist: You’ve had the opportunity to play alongside very notable industry players. Is there any on-stage experience you have to date that stands out significantly, and if so, how did it influence you?
Kieran Apter: I went on to close the night after Dixon last year in Edinburgh, shortly before I was due to come on he played Manuel Tur’s remix of my track with Leon Power ‘All I Want’. There were a lot of my friends in the crowd so the reaction was pretty special, however nobody was as ecstatic as I was. We had met in the Green Room a little earlier and I joked about being nervous to go on after him, although I hadn’t mentioned anything about the release. I was very taken back when he played it, but it gave me more confidence for my set and inspiration in my career going forward.
I find myself analysing the music I listen to, even if I’m on a night out.
Torture the Artist: You started DJing a while before starting to produce. Has your perception of music changed in any way since you’ve started producing?
Kieran Apter: Definitely. The more I’ve gotten into production the more I find myself analysing the music I listen to, even if I’m on a night out.
Torture the Artist: What’s your approach with music production? Is there a set ritual you follow to get into the zone or do you have to experience a certain something to get inspired?
Kieran Apter: I used to always start my tracks off working on the percussion but more recently I’ve started playing chords and writing melodies to first get the idea together, almost starting with the break. I try and work on music most weeks but I like producing when I know I have the full day to do so. Starting in the morning so I have lots of time to explore ideas and sounds and completely forget about time. I’m always feeling inspired, a lot of the inspiration comes from my own experiences on the dance floor as well as behind the decks. I also find inspiration in everyday life and other arts, I’m a big movie buff and sometimes a film or series I’m watching can give me a little spark.
Torture the Artist: Talking about your latest release – ‘The Mirror’ EP, what’s the idea behind it?
Kieran Apter: It wasn’t intentional but I think each track on The Mirror EP gives a different look at my influences. All four tracks were written with the intention of playing them in the club, I think they all work well for different moments in the set.
Torture the Artist: What studio setup did you use in the production of this release?
Kieran Apter: Up until recently I had mainly been using Logic and different plug-ins with a midi keyboard for my own productions. On ‘Without’ we used Leon’s Prophet 08 synthesiser and his piano. I have just recently bought myself a Korg Minilogue and I’m really enjoying using it at the moment.
Torture the Artist: The campaign to donate all profits from the sales of your recent release ‘Remember’ to the British Red Cross London Fire Relief Fund is very admirable. What inspired you to take a stand for Grenfell and in what way do you feel connected to the event?
Kieran Apter: Thank you. It’s a horrific tragedy and very sad that it’s happened. When I heard about the circumstances in which it should have been avoided it really struck a nerve with me. I am in London a lot now so I think it feels pretty close to home. I wanted to get my feelings about it across in the track, and the label and I felt it was only right to donate the profits.
Torture the Artist: What current global trends or causes are you most concerned about?
Kieran Apter: In terms of trends I think as much as it can be a good thing, social media is also causing some problems in today’s society. People are definitely addicted to their phones now, I hear lots about mental health issues attached to this. I found it used to affect my productivity levels and I now try and limit time spent on it.
You need to get to know your tracks well before playing them out at gigs.
Torture the Artist: How much of your time do you devote to your music? Any other interests, hobbies or projects?
Kieran Apter: Ideally I like to spend two or three days a week on productions if I can, but it doesn’t always work out like that. I listen to music most days. I think listening to music is very important as a DJ, you need to get to know your tracks well before playing them out at gigs.
From a young age I was very into martial arts but in the last few years I stopped practicing. I’d like to get back into it as I feel it’s great for my mind as well as my body.
Torture the Artist: What other musicians or producers are you into now?
Kieran Apter: I love everything Aera is doing, and I’m very excited to hear his album. I’m really digging the latest EPs from DJ Koze and Peggy Gou. I’m a big fan of all the Keinemusik guys also. Non dance floor wise Sampha, has been a favourite of mine over the last few years.
Torture the Artist: Name three productions that are timeless in your opinion?
Kieran Apter: Mr. Fingers ‘Can You Feel It‘
Soul Capsule ‘Lady Science (NYC Sunrise)‘
Cassius ‘The Sound Of Violence (Franco Cinelli Remix)‘
Torture the Artist: And your current top three tracks that won’t be missing from an upcoming set?
Kieran Apter: Kiwi ‘Amityville (DJ Tennis Remix)‘
DJ Koze ‘Nein König Nein‘
Engyn ‘I Can Still Hear Her Smile (Aera Remix)’
Torture the Artist: What’s a track you’d like to play to the royal family, and why?
Kieran Apter: Public Enemy ‘Fight The Power‘, I’ll let you make your own mind up about why.